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Local News

Houbolt bridge construction now planned for spring

Public can view plans on Tuesday at open house

CenterPoint Properties now is aiming at spring 2019 for the start of construction for the Houbolt Road bridge.

Plans for the toll bridge over the Des Plaines River and a diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 80 will be presented from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at an open house for the public in the Joliet Junior College Main Campus Event Center.

The plan is to provide a more direct route for semitrailers from I-80 to the CenterPoint Properties intermodal parks in Joliet and Elwood.

CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy said on Monday that he had been hoping to begin construction by this fall, but spring is a more realistic timetable. The project was previously estimated to start this fall.

“Financially, we’re ready to go,” Murphy said.

CenterPoint has lined up United Bridge Partners, a company in the business of financing, designing, building and operating private toll bridges, as its finance partner for the bridge, which is estimated to cost $160 million.

The project calls for CenterPoint to build the toll bridge, while the state would build the new interchange along with widening Houbolt Road at a cost of between $20 million and $26 million.

Murphy said that CenterPoint still needs to go through the process of selecting a design/build company for the bridge.

The bridge and roads leading to it will run from Schweitzer Road on the south side of the Des Plaines River to Route 6 on the north side, where it will connect with Houbolt Road.

Once the project starts, Murphy anticipates a two-year construction period before the bridge opens.

The cost of bridge tolls has not been determined. Murphy said CenterPoint is negotiating the tolls with Will County, which has governing authority of the tolls.

But CenterPoint has done a study indicating companies operating in the intermodal parks will be willing to pay tolls to use the bridge.

“We have done a traffic analysis study,” Murphy said. “We’ve polled most of our clients in the park. They love the idea of it.”

People who attend the open house will be able to see a video showing how the diverging diamond interchange works.

“It eliminates left-hand turns to get onto the interstate across opposing traffic,” Joliet Public Works Director James Trizna said.

The design is “very new to most people,” Trizna said, as Illinois only has two others.

Houbolt will be widened to five lanes from the interchange to Route 6. A traffic light will be added at Mound Road.

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